Peanuts, which we call mani after the Spanish name, came to our shores during the time of the Galleon Trade. Peanuts are a native plant of South America.
From the Philippines it spread to Indonesia, India, China, and other parts of Asia. Traders brought the legume farther afield, until it became known throughout the world.
Uses of peanuts in Filipino cuisine are not as varied as, say, in other parts of Southeast Asia. We boil peanuts for snacks, we pack it with caramelized sugar to prepare sweet treats, we fry it in oil with some garlic to make adobong mani, and we mix pulverized roasted peanuts with coconut milk to prepare kare-kare sauce .
How come we don’t copy the way Thai or Malay and Indonesian people use it in an all-purpose sauce? When served with pork or chicken threaded in bamboo sticks and roasted over coals, the peanut sauce is called satay sauce.
Peanut sauce goes a long way in making the plainest vegetables more palatable. Fresh or steamed leaves, sprouts, or fruits get a flavor blast when complimented by peanut sauce, which you can easily make from the following ingredients:
* ground peanuts or peanut butter
* some cooking oil or sesame oil, if available
* some soy sauce
* some minced garlic
* some minced siling labuyo
* some green onion, sliced thin
* some sugar
* some kalamansi juice
* coconut milk or water to thin the sauce.
You will notice that no quantities are given for the ingredients. This is to encourage your creativity! It’s also a way of recognizing that individual tastes vary, and personal preferences will dictate the degree of sweetness and spiciness of this wonderful sawsawan. Now go and make some peanut sauce and surprise your family!